NASA and Eco-Schools USA Team Up for Teachers

Groups Host Inaugural Climate Change Connections Institute in Maryland

11-05-2010 // Amanda Cooke
NASA Goddard group

This week, National Wildlife Federation hosted the inaugural NASA/Eco-Schools USA Climate Change Connections (CCC) professional development institute for middle school and high school teachers.

Joining the Eco-Schools team at the NASA Goddard Visitor Center were 18 teachers from Boston, Austin, Seattle, and Washington, DC, the Project Budburst lead from the Chicago Botanic Garden, and NASA’s senior education specialist, Brian Campbell.

NWF climate scientist Dr. Amanda Staudt and former science teacher Jennifer Hammonds developed a school curriculum that was presented to the participants. 

This new curriculum will help educators teach climate change modeling, predictions, history, and impacts within the framework of the Eco-Schools USA program.

"We’re grateful for the opportunity to spend time with these amazing teachers – they have a tough but rewarding job to teach and mentor today’s youth to be tomorrow’s environmental stewards," Laura Hickey, Senior Director of Eco-Schools USA, said in a Wildlife Promise blog post.

The first day of the three-day institute introduced participants to technology and tools that NASA offers through its MY NASA DATA program.  This hands-on portion of the workshop helped educators learn how to access and interpret scientific data.

NASA education specialist Brian Campbell presented using the Science On a Sphere (SOS) educational tool.  SOS is a room-sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe.

On day two, Dr. Jennifer Schwarz-Ballard from the Chicago Botanic Garden provided an overview of Project Budburst.  Project Budburst is a national phenology and climate change field campaign for citizen scientists. NWF developed a related curriculum lesson called “Citizen Scientist to the Rescue: Trends in Spring Arrival Using Project Budburst”.  As part of this lesson, CCC participants engaged in a Budburst nature observing walk, using handheld GPS units, tree finder guides, and phenology assessment worksheets to report what they found.

Wednesday was the third and final day at the Climate Change Connections institute. 

"Perhaps the most interesting part of the final day for me was to watch the participating teachers make direct linkages between the Eco-Schools USA pathways and the lessons from the NASA CCC curriculum we’ve developed over the last few months," Hickey said, referring to the program's eight pathways: energy; water; climate change; Green Hour; school grounds; transportation; global dimensions; and consumption and waste.

The international Eco-Schools program is sponsored by the Foundation for Environmental Education, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainability through environmental education via classroom study and community action. National Wildlife Federation is the host organization for the Eco-Schools program in the United States.  Visit to learn more, and follow the program on Twitter @ecoschoolsusa.